California Literary Review

House Recap: ‘Perils of Paranoia’ (Season 8, Episode 8)

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November 29th, 2011 at 8:46 am

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Still: House: Perils of Paranoia

The team’s new patient, a prosecutor, has been living in a state of paranoia and even has a hidden bunker built in his house.

This episode was billed as the fall finale, so I guess this is it for a while. We get another prank war between House and Wilson. Over the weekend I caught part of the season six opener, which also featured a prank war between House and Wilson. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose… These two should just admit they’re basically married, even if House did turn down Wilson’s public proposal of marriage back in season six. Coincidentally or not, relationships are one of tonight’s themes.

We open in a courtroom, where a prosecutor is tearing apart a witness’s alibi. The lawyer for the defense calls for a recess, not because he’s screwed, but because he thinks he’s having a heart attack.

Avengers assemble! – this means the team is in the conference room. Also, I see from the opening credits that Yaya DaCosta, who featured on the one cycle of America’s Next Top Model I really watched, is one of the guest stars. She actually seems to have a career, which is something of an anomaly for former contestants on that show, though not as a model.

The team suspects poisoning; House thinks it must be the wife (cf. episode 2.15, “Clueless”, where the supposedly happy wife whose husband collapsed during their kinky sex games turned out to be poisoning him with gold). Taub thinks Foreman needs a girlfriend, because that would be healthier than where his micromanaging is leading him now. Oh, and everyone kind of squabbles over who gets to work with Park, which she definitely notices.

The wife raves to Taub and Chase about what a prince among men her husband is, and says he couldn’t have been poisoned accidentally, either, because he never, ever eats or drinks anything prepared outside their home, even bottled water.

There’s more coming. Park and the other one – I actually had to go to Wikipedia to remind myself she’s called “Jessica Adams,” that’s the powerful impression she’s making on me – ok, Park and Adams go to the patient’s house, which looks fine until Park finds her inner Nancy Drew and realizes the dining room wall is suspiciously shallow, indicating a hidden chamber. There’s a great moment when she claps her hands at Adams to hurry her up. As everyone who saw the previews knows, it’s a bunker full of guns.

The patient’s wife had no idea. He put it in there on the sly while they were renovating a while back. He claims it’s a reasonable precaution against the collapse of civilization. Later he makes an eloquent argument equating it with keeping a spare tire in the trunk of your car. Park is willing to accept this as reasonable, or reasonable-ish, and cites the recent London riots. The other team members argue that clinical paranoia should be added to the list of symptoms.

Still: House: Perils of Paranoia

Taub tries to pry into Foreman’s private life and find him a date.

While all this is going on, we learn that House is only treating the hot chicks in the clinic, and that Taub is putting out the word about Foreman needing a girlfriend, and female employees are offering him (Foreman) lunch dates and cupcakes, which just fuels Foreman’s paranoia. Chase tells Adams that park is weird; Adams is weird, too, he says, but it’s easier in her case because she’s hot. What gentlemen they’re all being tonight.

Wilson insists that House must own a gun, no matter how strongly he denies it, because House can never resist anything dangerous, even though this could get House sent back to prison. Cue tonight’s prank war.

Park complains to House that she’s not respected. House says she’s respected, but not liked. Ouch.

House comes home to find Wilson trapped in the net he set for him, confident that Wilson would break in to prove he’s right about the gun.

Foreman is working out his aggressions on a punching bag at the gym, when Yaya strolls up and introduces herself. She looks quite terrifyingly buff, like she should be fighting dinosaurs on Terra Nova. Foreman initially thinks this is just more of Taub’s work, and calls him. “Can’t talk. Busy now,” explains Taub – the patient is hallucinating that he’s being attacked by bears, and the team are apparently the bears.

House finds a tripwire string across his kitchen doorway, and when he trips it, Wilson comes barreling out of the closet yelling “Gotcha!”. Too easy, as House realizes when he goes into the bathroom and all the doorknobs fall off, locking him in. Wilson gloats.

Foreman and Yaya have just gone back to her place, when a man calls to her from another room. She pushes Foreman into the hallway; her husband has come home a day early. Foreman, naturally, goes back to the hospital to bawl Taub out for putting ideas into his head and thereby getting him entangled with a married woman. Taub points out the extreme unhealthiness of this response. He then observes to Chase that “a married one’s not a keeper, but it’s a start.”

The patient’s at death’s door. House gives advice via phone from his bathroom, while Wilson searches his House; Wilson doesn’t find a gun, but does find lots of his (Wilson’s) stuff.

Tracheotomy time for our patient, who can’t breathe; it barely helps. Wilson, meanwhile, has a found a gun hidden in House’s office. House is explaining that it’s a nonfunctional gun used as a prop by a famous lady magician who pretended to catch bullets in her teeth, which he won in a competition. He’s won this competition, too, forcing Wilson to say he’s won. Then, while poking a pencil into the barrel of the gun to make his point, he has his epiphany.

The patient’s breathing problem has been caused by a “pseudo-membrane” in his throat (eww!); that, and all of his other acute symptoms (but not the gun-hoarding) are the result of an old-fashioned case of diphtheria.

In a striking non-coincidence, the local Fox affiliate keeps mentioning that there will be a segment on parents refusing vaccines on tonight’s news.

Gotta say, though — I myself was traumatized as an adolescent by the scene in the classic Canadian young-adult novel Mrs. Mike (based on a true story) in which the protagonist describes watching her two children die horribly of diphtheria, one after the other on the same day. But a few years ago, when I taught William Carlos William’s classic short prose piece, “The Use of Force,” in a college literature class, it turned out not a single student had any idea what diphtheria even was – because vaccines have made it a non-issue. I know I’m on controversial ground here, but if people read more Victorian literature, they’d be aware that mostly, before vaccines (and decent plumbing), people just died a lot, especially the children. Doesn’t anyone read Jane Eyre anymore? Or the novels of Mrs. Gaskell?

Final roundup. Park asks Chase out for a drink, in a gloriously, squirmingly awkward scene in the elevator, with Adams standing by; finally, Park gets a “yes” out of him. Foreman turns down an invitation to happy hour, then appears to rethink – nope, he’s meeting Yaya (who is called Anita on this show). House puts his gun back in his closet at home, and takes out and fondles what appears to be his father’s sword. I don’t know what that’s about.

  • Kevin

    House has a gun but does not own a gun. The gun (standard Marine issue at the time )and the sword are mementos, memories of the father he claims to hate.

  • Matthijs

    “I don’t know what that’s about.”

    The dying seconds of this episode are the most important once. Many critics of the show referred multiple times to the lack of character development of House and his relationship with his father. In some season – can’t remember right now which one – a book written by his father gets some attention and the emotions of House are roughly touched during that episode concerning his son-father relationship. However, since then the show was mostly about showing hot women, the same kinds of mysteries over and over and providing some quick laughs.

    This time, the writers will finally provide some profound insights concerning the man House

    (excuse my English, I’m originally Dutch)

  • Holly Hunt

    Kevin, thanks for clarifying about the gun! I’ve been wondering if we’re going to get more of House’s father issues soon — it seemed like we got a few references to them in the “Parents” episode. I almost ended the recap with a query as to whether the sword thing is leading us in the same direction.

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